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Biden, Trump in after-hours dogfight as key states remain unclaimed

Last Updated Nov 4, 2020 at 12:59 pm EST

A dogfight for the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House is currently raging across America, with both Joe Biden and Donald Trump claiming some key early states after a bitter election filled with character assaults and damning accusations of corruption.

November 4, 2020: The election results continue to flow in. For Wednesday’s results, click here.

By early Wednesday, neither candidate had the votes needed to win. The tight overall contest reflected a deeply polarized nation struggling to respond to the worst health crisis in more than a century, with millions of lost jobs, and a reckoning on racial injustice.

Trump, in an early morning appearance at the White House, made premature claims of victories in several key states and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.

Trump won Florida and its 29 electoral votes, the biggest prize among the perennial battlegrounds and a state crucial to his reelection hopes.

The incumbent president also won Texas and its 38 electoral votes despite a furious, late push by Democrats to turn America’s biggest red state blue. Another key state, Ohio, was also called for Trump.

Some of Trump’s other wins so far have come in West Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Indiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Biden’s biggest wins came in New York (29 electoral votes) and California, which has the most electoral votes at 55. But the race is still up for grabs.

It’s still too early to call key battleground states like Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — the ones which may ultimately decide the cantankerous contest for the world’s most prominent political position.

Only Arizona, a southern border state Trump won by four points in 2016, looked likely to flip to the Democrats.

Joe Biden spoke briefly to supporters around 12:30 a.m. asking his supporters to “keep the faith” outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.

He told a gathering of supporters that his hopes for victory remain high despite the uncertainty and cautioned them that it could take a day or longer to know who won.

He told them: “Your patience is commendable.”

Meanwhile, Twitter has hid an election-related post by Trump, warning that its content is disputed and could be misleading.

Trump stated in a tweet without evidence early Wednesday that Democrats were trying to “steal” the election. He also falsely said votes cannot be cast after polls are closed.

States allow voters to cast ballots if they are in line when polls close.

Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov 3. can be accepted if they arrive up to three days after the election.

Trump suggested in his appearance Wednesday morning said those ballots shouldn’t be counted. But Biden urged patience, saying the election “ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”

“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election,” Biden said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”

After weeks of courting voters, a divided America is now adding the votes — a gargantuan task that could leave the United States in an anxious state of suspended animation if a winner can’t be determined in a timely fashion.

A staggering 102 million Americans voted early — a record total that represents 73 per cent of the total turnout of the 2016 presidential election.

Voters also flocked to the polls in person on Tuesday, brushing aside fears of an escalating COVID-19 pandemic to cast their votes.

With the worst public health crisis in a century still fiercely present, the pandemic — and Trump’s handling of it — was the inescapable focus for 2020.

The president began his day on an upbeat note, predicting that he’d do even better than in 2016. But during a midday visit to his campaign headquarters, he spoke in a gravelly, subdued tone.

“Winning is easy,” Trump told reporters earlier Tuesday. “Losing is never easy, not for me it’s not.”

The first polls closed at 6 p.m. Eastern time in swaths of Indiana and Kentucky, followed by a steady stream of poll closings every 30 minutes to an hour throughout the evening. The last polls in Alaska shut down at 1 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.

Fight for control of the Senate

The battle for power in the Senate tightened into Wednesday as Democrats picked up a seat in Colorado, but suffered a setback in Alabama, and Republicans held their own in high-profile races in South Carolina, Iowa, Texas and Kansas, dramatically narrowing the political map.

Republicans fought to retain their Senate majority by turning back a surge of Democrats challenging allies of President Donald Trump, and the Democrats’ various paths to seizing control were growing more limited. With several contests still too early to call, and one Georgia race heading to a January runoff, the final verdict is expected to drag on.

Democrats gained a seat when ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper ousted GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado, a must-win to flip the Senate, but couldn’t hold on in Alabama, where former college football coach Tommy Tuberville beat Sen. Doug Jones .

At the same time, several battlegrounds broke for Republicans: South Carolina, where White House ally Lindsey Graham survived the race of his political career against Jamie Harrison; Texas, as Sen. John Cornyn turned back former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar; Kansas, with Rep. Roger Marshall prevailing over state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former Republican who energized Democrats in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932; and Iowa, where Sen. Joni Ernst defeated Democrat Theresa Greenfield in a race seen as a toss-up.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the uncertainty ahead even after he secured a seventh term in Kentucky, fending off Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot in a costly campaign.

“We don’t know which party will control the Senate,” McConnell said from Louisville. “But some things are certain already. We know grave challenges will remain before us, challenges that could not care less about our political polarization. We know our next president will need to unite the country, even as we all continue to bring different ideas and commitments to the table.”

Securing the Senate majority will be vital for the winner of the presidency. Senators confirm administration nominees, including the Cabinet, and can propel or stall the White House agenda. With Republicans now controlling the chamber, 53-47, three or four seats will determine party control, depending on who wins the presidency because the vice-president can break a tie.

Mounting anxiety

A nation already uncertain about its future amid a worsening pandemic, an economic sucker punch and series of police killings that forced a national reckoning on racism is now contemplating the added threat of possible clashes in the wake of Election Day.

Walmart announced it removed ammunition and firearms from displays, citing “civil unrest.” Some businesses boarded up their buildings.

A new anti-scale fence was also erected around the White House and in downtowns ranging from New York to Denver to Minneapolis, workers boarded up businesses lest the vote lead to unrest of the sort that broke out earlier this year amid protests over racial inequality.

More than 1,000 people protesting Trump descended on Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House. Hundreds more are marching through parts of downtown Washington early Wednesday, sometimes blocking traffic and setting off fireworks.

Hundreds of people marched in anti-Trump demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, with several arrested.

“This is what democracy looks like,” protesters chanted in Portland, where organizers said the demonstration would be peaceful and that regardless of the presidential election result, they would continue protesting in support of racial justice. The sheriff’s office said some protesters were openly carrying guns.

In Seattle, police said they arrested several people, including someone who put nails in a road and another who drove over a barricade and into a police bike lane. No one was injured.